Directory Page Title

Joan Gavaler

Co-Artistic Director of Aura Curiatlas Physical Theatre/Professor and Director of W&M Dance

Office: Adair Hall 401
Email: [[jsgava]]
Phone: (757) 221-2785
Website: {{}}
Website: {{}}



Areas of Specialization

Dance choreography and performance, theatre choreography and movement direction, Alexander Technique, Contact Improvisation, physical theatre


Joan Gavaler has a career as both an independent performer/choreographer and as an educator.  She relishes the creative process and embraces collaborative discovery in making new work. To further that interest, she co-founded Aura Curiatlas Physical Theatre in 2013 to create working blending dance, theatre, and acrobatics to tell stories.  The company has toured the Eastern, Southern, and Midwest United States. The company will return to the Kimball Theatre, Williamsburg, VA in May 2017 and appear for the first time at Firehouse Theatre, Richmond, VA in June 2017.

Through her career, Joan has created over 50 original works and has been a driving force behind four professional companies.  She has collaborated with poets, visual artists, composers, musicians, actors, directors, acrobats, and physicists on many dance and theatre projects.  She has been invited by over 40 organizations to present and teach in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including presentations on the Alexander Technique in Lugano, Switzerland, a two-week dance residency at Beijing Normal University, performing in American Dance Guild showcases in New York City and at Dance Place in Washington, D.C., being named an AAHPERD Distinguished Guest Artist, and serving as a movement consultant for the Virginia Shakespeare Festival. She received multiple project grants for Gavaler Danceworks (1990-1996) and Aura Curiatlas (2013-present), most recently from Virginia Commission for the Arts, Williamsburg Area Arts Commission, and York County Arts Commission. 

Students value the supportive and challenging atmosphere she creates in the classroom and the thoughtful guidance she provides as a mentor.  She has taught collaboratively with colleagues and has developed new courses including History of American Vernacular Dance, Contact Improvisation and Partnering Principles, Alexander Technique, and Introduction to Physical Theatre in addition to teaching dance composition, modern and ballet technique, and mentoring undergraduate choreographers and theatre artists.  Her expertise has been sought for external program and faculty reviews, performance adjudication, and board membership in professional organizations.  She served as Department Chair for Theatre, Speech, and Dance from 2009-2014.

Current Courses

Dance Composition I and II, Alexander Technique, Physical Theatre, all levels of modern and ballet technique

Student Advising

Dance Minors, Performance Ensemble, William & Mary Theatre, Interdisciplinary Studies